Actually, your first "thing to blame" explains the other two.
Popular apathy, or, perhaps, popular passion
is what drives politics. Canadians, broadly and generally, are "passionate" about a few things; those few things are, pretty closely, related to their direct, personal, pocketbook/bank account/pay stub interests. They want lower taxes and
more spending on things that directly benefit them ... except in some very, very rare circumstances (two or three times in the past century) it's damned hard for any political leader to put defence on the list of Canadians' "passions."
has penned an excellent, passionate cri de coeur
that, directly, calls for two things:
1. Better political/bureaucratic decision making and processes (maybe even a grand strategy
for Canada); and
2. Some popular passion about how we act on the global stage. (Implicit in this is a bigger, better managed defence budget.)
is that there are three groups of very smart people in Ottawa who are interested in this issue.
The first group of really smart (and powerful) people, all of whom wear business suits, none of whom have much, if any, direct experience with the military, agree, very broadly, with Mr Gilmore's analysis; they've been saying much the same thing for years. They have laid emphasis on two elements:
1. Poor judgement and weak
top level leadership in National Defence Headquarters. There is a serious disconnect, they believe, between what the military, especially, says and
what it can and will deliver. They are dismayed that admirals and generals routinely cry wolf (rust-out) and then manage to cobble together a response to a political demand.
They think that the military either lies to the government, a venial sin, or to itself, a mortal one.
2. Political realities. These smart people acknowledge that increased defence spending ~ a necessary element of any solution to Canada;'s military dilemma ~ is politically difficult, maybe even impossible, right now. They argue, however,
that it is better to spend a bit more (a very few billion more each year) in a controlled manner than to have to spend many of ten of billions more (almost all "off shore") in an emergency situation.
The second group of smart people are younger and have even less contact with or interest in the military. They, however, have their fingers quite firmly on the pulse of public opinion ~ even on fine slices of public opinion. They oppose new defence spending ~ announcements are nice, actual spending is dangerous, they believe, lest it expose the government to a deficit, something which Canadians actually (albeit irrationally) fear
. This group's influence is always a (frequently useful) counter balance to the opinions and recommendations of the first group.
The third group is larger and very diverse. It actually has a significant "pro-defence" segment, but, mostly, it represents a wide range of "single interests" (which includes national defence as just one of many). It's role is to bring all those "single interests," individually, to the attention of politicians and senior bureaucrats and political advisors and the media
. This group likes to call its members "opinion makers"
, and sometimes that's accurate. How efficient and effective
each "single interest" opinion maker might be depends, in part, on how popular
the "interest" might already be ... and defence is a narrow and, generally, unpopular interest. (As I have said, over and over again, popular support for the military might
be a mile wide (red t-shirts and yellow ribbons and so on) but it is less than an inch deep and it, that puddle of public support, will evaporate completely when exposed to the heat and light of e.g. economic and social interests.)
The "defence community," which includes many of us, here on Army.ca who serve, did serve or are interested in national defence, is small, poorly organized, weak
(indecisive and divided) and, largely, leaderless. Yes, "we" have our own lobby groups
within that big, broad "third group" described above, and yes, we have our own PR group
, but how do these compare with other groups
and other PR leaders
? My answer is: poorly. And it's understandable why DND, itself, and its own pet lobby group are less than effective: for one thing their job is to "toe the party line
," not to actually promote
national defence. Meanwhile, other groups, some with very evident anti-military agendas
are not so constrained and can be, therefore, more effective.
So, we, the "military community," are weak
, divided, quiet and, generally, "outgunned" and "outmanoeuvred" in the battle to capture public "passions"
and so our budgets and systems and management remain inadequate ... because that's the way Canadians have "directed" their political servants.